As I prepared to write an entirely new series I was tickled (I often get tickled) to discover that the real life heroine of my upcoming Florence Nightingale Comedy Mystery Series was actually a Derbyshire lass. The Nightingale family owned an estate called Lea Hurst in Darcy’s Derbyshire. Initially this set all sorts of what ifs in motion regarding our dear couple, but alas, the timing was off by at least twenty years.
Florence Nightingale was born in 1820, so while it is conceivable that as a child she might have known Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, fear not for I am not considering a mash-up between Pride and Prejudice and the Lady of the Lamp.
Miss Nightingale’s childhood did arouse my curiosity as to how many other famous people were born or grew up in Derbyshire. My list below is far from complete but fun to consider for the mix of celebrities who either began their lives in Derbyshire, settled there later in life, or had a special connection to this beautiful district.
Following are but a few celebrities from a very long list:
Timothy Dalton — Actor — Twice James Bond
John Hurt CBE — Actor — A Man for All Seasons, The Elephant Man, Harry Potter
Alan Bates — Actor—Whistle Down the Wind, Georgy Girl, Far From the Madding Crowd
Robert Lindsay — Actor — A familiar face you will recognize from many BBC productions including Gideon’s Daughter, My Family, and the sitcom, Spy.
Bess of Hardwick — A notable figure of Elizabethan society, she rose from a simple gentleman’s daughter to the highest level of English nobility by a series of well-made marriages. She became the companion/jailer of Mary Queen of Scots.
Thomas Cook — Founder of Thomas Cook & Sons. Modern day travel.
Henry Royce — Sir Frederick Royce, OBE, who with Charles Rolls founded the Rolls Royce company.
Vivienne Westwood — DBE. A fashion designer and highly successful businesswoman, Miss Westwood was instrumental in shaping the 1970s UK punk scene. She was born in Tintwistle (don’t you love than name?), which later became a part of Derbyshire.
Derbyshire Literary Connections
Following are a few literary greats who either lived in Derbyshire, visited friends and family there, or traveled the area and were so enamored with the landscape that they wrote about it. Most require no comments as the names will be very familiar to you.
Daniel Defoe – trader, writer, journalist, and spy (I love this! He must have been an interesting fellow.)
Agatha Christie — Dame Agatha Christie did not live in Derbyshire but spent many pleasant hours walking the moors, perhaps conjuring plots in which the stunning scenery played almost as large a role as many of her characters.
Florence Nightingale Comedy Mystery series
The Giggling Corpse ~ Book One to be published in late March. Queen Victoria sends Florence Nightingale on her first mission. Her comical assistant Miss Poppy Throckmorten and Lord Melbourne accompany Miss Nightingale on this cozy murder mystery caper.
I can hear you all asking …why the owl?
In real life Florence rescued a baby owl while she was traveling in Greece. She named the little creature Athena. It spent most of its life living in her apron pocket as she went about healing the sick and injured. The owl became very defensive of her mistress, who in turn adored her little pet. So the owl you see before you is Athena named after the Greek goddess of wisdom and war.
Florence Nightingale and Athena
With love & laughter!